Five Things You Should Know About Car Seat Safety • The Pregnancy Network

Five Things You Should Know About Car Seat Safety

You’ve almost arrived at the end of your pregnancy, and you’re anxiously waiting to bring your baby home. The nursery is ready, all of your newborn’s clothes are washed, and you’ve sanitized the bottles and pacifiers. There’s one last thing to tackle: the car seat.

Whether you already have a car seat picked out or you’re just now beginning to look for one, you’re in the right place. Here are five things you should know about car seat safety before you bring your baby home.

  1. Wait to put your car seat in the car until your child arrives.

It’s recommended that you wait to put your child’s car seat in the car until just before you give birth. If you were to get into an accident, you’d need to replace the car seat and base. If you like to be prepared, you can set up the base anytime during your pregnancy since a car seat base is much cheaper to replace than the car seat if you were to get into an accident.

  1. Learn about the 5-point harness.

A properly fitted 5-point harness gives the best possible protection for your child. A 5-point harness has straps that go over both shoulders and both hips and then buckles at the crotch. The car seat label will tell you the weight and height range of the harness. Check regularly to make sure your child has not outgrown it. A seat belt is also a type of harness and is used on older children in booster seats. Every passenger in a moving vehicle must use some form of harness for protection in case of a crash.

You should also be sure to use the correct harness slots. On rear-facing car seats, the shoulder straps should come through the car seat slots at or just below your child’s shoulders. On forward-facing seats, the shoulder straps should be at or just above the shoulders. If you’re unsure, consult the manual of your child’s car seat.

  1. Do the pinch test.

If you give birth at a hospital, a member of your care team will assist you in securing your child in his/her car seat for the first time. Going forward, it’s helpful to continue to use the pinch test. The pinch test ensures the harness is securely fastened and snug. After you buckle the harness, pinch the harness at the shoulder. If it is properly fitted, your fingers will slide off the webbing. If the harness is loose, you’ll be able to pinch the webbing between your fingers. A loose harness is a common mistake and is not safe. Keep tightening the harness until it passes the pinch test.

  1. Remove your child’s jacket before they get into their car seat, secure the harness, and then put your child’s jacket back on.

During the winter, you want your baby to be as warm and comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, wearing bulky clothes or winter coats prevents a snug harness fit. The air in your child’s jacket can cause a harness to appear tight when it is not. Adjust the harness while your child’s coat is off, then put the coat back on and rebuckle. The harness may appear tight, but it will fit properly. It takes a little bit of extra time, but it is well worth the peace of mind. 

  1. Don’t rush the transitions. 

Whether you have a convertible car seat or an infant car seat, use your child’s car seat until he/she reaches the maximum weight or height limit listed on the label. Every step forward slightly reduces safety, so it’s best to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible before moving to a forward-facing or booster seat.

Resources of Support

We know safety is your top priority when transporting your little one. If you’re unsure about anything related to car seat safety, you can get a National Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to help you feel more confident in your child’s car seat safety. To find a National Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in Guilford County, visit or call 336-832-3939.